7/8/15

Reese Kaplan -- Go Big or Go Home

21 comments
My buddy Tom Brennan yesterday asked about patience which is in precious short supply these days for Mets fans.  He pointed out in response to someone criticizing giving Wilmer Flores the opportunity to play how the man responded with his recent 10 hit series against the Dodgers.  It was used as evidence of to support what happens when you wait and give people time to develop.

While I agree in principle with the idea of being patient with young players (and wholeheartedly support trying them in ANY spot on the team when the veterans aren’t doing their jobs), the fans have been pathological in their degree of patience with management.  Without doing a whole lot of research I tossed out the name of Carlos Beltran as the last significant in-his-prime free agent acquisition this team has made.  That was in 2005 – over a decade ago!  (Remember when we got Pedro Martinez at the same time?)

What the fans want to see right now is the same kind of commitment to winning that let them roll the dice on the carousing and possibly illegal-drug using Keith Hernandez for homegrown young closer Neil Allen (and Kim Seaman who never made it to the majors).   It is the same quantity-to-get-quality move that had then sending Hubie Brooks, Floyd Youmans, Mike Fitzgerald and Herm Winningham to the Expos to bring back Gary Carter.  Thirteen years later this pattern repeated when the Mets shipped off Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall to bring back an offensive force in Mike Piazza despite having a capable (if PED-aided) Todd Hundley manning the plate.  In all of these cases the team took gambles that happened to pay off to get the offensive additions needed to push them to the next level.

Now it’s not always been peaches and cream.  Many of us sadly remember the ill-fated Melvin Mora for Mike Bordick trade (in which the Mets actually gave three more non-descript players as well!)  Then there’s the infamous Scott Kazmir for “I can fix him in ten minutes” Victor Zambrano. 

Still, when you read the various media coverage about possible trade acquisitions the Mets should make – Ben Zobrist, Martin Prado, Gerardo Parra, Brock Holt – these players are not in the same conversation with Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza or Carlos Beltran.  Zobrist’s power has been in decline for a few years and while he offers positional versatility, his last solid season came a few years ago when he hit 12 HRs, drove in 75 and hit .275 – nice, but not a “difference maker”.  Prado is essentially a marginally better right handed version of Daniel Murphy in terms of what he does with the bat…nice to have, but not enough to propel you over the top.  Parra is Juan Lagares.  Holt is 28 and having a nice fill-in season for Boston, but again he’s not a middle-of-the-order guy. 

There’s an old saying that one should go big or go home.  The Mets equivalent of this approach would be to look to solve their offensive problems with a bonafide cleanup hitter who plays any position on the diamond.  Like it or not, Lucas Duda could shift to the outfield.  Wilmer Flores could go back to SS or 3B.  Ruben Tejada could return to the bench where he belongs.  Daniel Murphy could go back to 2B and Flores to SS.  Cuddyer could go to the IF or the bench.  Granderson could shift to CF if they disable Lagares.  ANY position could help.  I’d even take a catcher if he could hit like Buster Posey or Steven Vogt.

To acquire such a player can be done with quantity or quality.  The quantity deals tend to be prospect heavy and could include highly regarded people like Brandon Nimmo, Gabriel Ynoa, Michael Fulmer, Matt Bowman or Gavin Cecchini.  Quality trades would include proven major leaguers like Jon Niese (pitching the best of his career lately), Bartolo Colon, Jenrry Mejia (can’t miss what you never had), or one of the young stud pitchers.  I’d go to battle with a starting five of Jacob de Grom, Steve Matz, Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and one of Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard if it would bring back a Corey Seager. 

Unfortunately the trades made for major league, umm, talent during the Sandy Alderson era have only included the likes of Ramon Ramirez, Andres Torres, Eric Young.  (We’re still reeling from the quick Alex Torres/Jerry Blevins deals that happened at the end of Spring Training as they’re so out of character for this regime). 

We’ve never seen a prospect-for-prospect deal as it requires guts, something this front office has never demonstrated it has.  We’ve never seen them make the emotional and resource investment in the best available player – always settling for a distant second tier choice like Michael Cuddyer. 

Years ago you transformed the team with the acquisition of one “bad boy” in Keith Hernandez.  See what the Dodgers want for Yasiel Puig who has apparently worn out his welcome there.  At just 24 and under contract for $5.5 million next year, he’s a great bridge to Michael Conforto and helps NOW.  You might even get him for a package centered around Niese and AA pitchers. 

To be fair, the one thing Sandy Alderson has done better than other GMs is keeping his cards close to his vest.  The trades he made all came from out of left field.  They weren’t leaked to the media weeks in advance.    Still, the appearance of no movement after years of no movement at the trading deadline is what drives fans to drink. 

Whatever you do, stop deluding the fans.  You’re either in it to win or simply not lose.  You are currently sporting the 27th worst record in baseball since your 11 game winning streak concluded.  You’re not doing too well at the “not losing” part.  What is the point of developing one of the most enviable pitching staffs in baseball to let people turn off the game once the team is 2 runs down as they’re averaging 1.44 runs per non-Matz start?  You are at or second to the bottom in every offensive category.  The team needs bats.  No more half measures, please.  Be in it to win it. 


21 comments:

bob gregory said...

Well written Reese.
I agree. If the team is going to spend it's resources, target the best quality.

Just like buying a used car. Sure you can save money if you purchase a cheap one that does not fit your needs completely.
But when time passes and it doesn't perform well enough or have all of the comforts you may really want......
You are now stuck having to suffer through or take a hit owing more than its worth as a trade in.

Mack Ade said...

Look, we keep talking about the same things... trying to come up with a solution to make this a better team without the ownership of this team stepping up and supporting it like a big market team.

The Mets payroll this year should AT LEAST be in the $150mil range, which means there should be at least two top $20mil/yr bats on this team.

Fans are annoying, twitter fans should be sometimes tied up and shot, and the beat press is redundant, but it's the team ownership that's TOTALLY at fault here.

Kevin S said...

You see how the stadium was during the beginning of the season hot streak. If ownership invests in the on field product. People will come and support this team. The stadium will be full. Nobody wants to pay to watch their team get shut out or even no hit. Whether it's now or in the offseason, this team needs to invest in the on field product. Perfect example would be Justin Upton (an actual cleanup hitter).

Reese Kaplan said...

The ownership could pull off one of those rare prospect-for-prospect deals and not increase payroll. I tossed out the name of Corey Seager but it could also be Addison Russell or Francisco Lindor or Roughned Odor. Would you give up a top pitching prospect for a top offensive prospect? If so, both sides are happy -- no payroll increase and a boost to the offense now and in the future.

bob gregory said...

Mack

Fully agree that the Wilpons are at fault.
However fans can not exert pressure for the owners to fire themselves.
Alderson shares blame in the Mets mess. His plan has proven to be faulty. He has made bad choices in how to spend the restricted payroll he has been budgeted.
Other teams like the Pirates, Cubs, Royals, and Astros are showing better results at the major league level than the Mets with similar budgets.

Alderson is responsible for much of the organization's good. Yes. Great things.
However he is also responsible for most of the failures that have occurred on the major league team. Additionally, after 5+ years there does not appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Now
Great pitching has arrived but paired with poor offense = disappointment.

Later
Better offensive prospects arrive (hopefully they pan out) but pitchers will be lost due to injuries and expense = disappointment.

Alderson appears, at best right now, like a great chef that can make wonderful food but can not time a meal so that it is all ready at the same time.
Cold mashed potatoes, paired with under cooked turkey, over cooked dinner rolls, and the most delicious green beans.

Anonymous said...

I am all for improving the offense and trading one of the young arms for a young bat, but I am not sure that there are willing trade partners to do it. One of the reasons why I supported Flores as a short term option (never long term) was to see which young bats progressed the most so the Mets could maximize a trade for Thor/Matz. The first half of the season showed that Profar is no longer on the radar, Baez has major holes in his swing, Russell is promising, but Ks a TON, Lindor has flashed leather, but a soft stick, Odor has been below replacement, Andrus may be the worst contract in baseball and all of the other off season options for SS have been terrible. That leaves Boogerts and Seager who lead the pack for young bats, but are the Sox and Dodgers prepared to deal them? I haven't seen any inclination on either and the Cubbies don't seem eager to move Russell, so options are a function of what is available, so it becomes frustrating when fans scream for a "Piazza or Hernandez" type of trade without mentioning who the player is on the other side and is he available?

I would actually target Puig because he is young, talented and apparently has fallen out of favor. There don't seem to be any Mike Trout type of difference maker available, so Puig looks like he might be the best option....available
Anon Joe F

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that Sandy made bad decisions and should be held responsible for the current state of affairs. He made substantial bets that a number of players would stay healthy, young players would not regress, and that certain players would be counted on for larger offensive contributions. It was a plan and a risky one at that, but it was not entirely off the wall until every bets he made blew up in his face. Injuries are part of the game and he got bit; many young players step forward with experience, but it looks like Duda, Lagares and Flores have regressed; Cuddyer and Grandy were supposed to be veteran anchors, but MC has just been terrible all the way around and Grandy has been used in a way that his offensive contributions have been diminished.

These were all Sandy's choices and he has to take responsibility for them, but it was not the craziest plan given the available options and just about everything that could go wrong offensively, has and it is ugly to watch.

the best offensive solution for the Mets at the present time is for Duda to start hitting, MC improve to league average, get TDA back at some point, have Murphy go on one of his hit parades and the rest of the team start contributing. This is not murderers row, but there is enough room for internal improvement to lift them out of the current doldrums
Anon Joe F

Hobie said...

I agree, as usual, with Reese. Forget Pardo, Aramis, Zobrist, if you're going to make a move, "go big." Of course all these deals require the consent of an adversary, ORDERING Sandy to DO IT is as futile as playing poker with yourself. Puig for Niese, Fulmer & Morris? Sure. Syndergaard for Seager? Heck, do both--just pull the trigger, Sandy. Right.

FA is another thing entirely. You could outbid anybody if you just "want to win." Obviously the Wilpons don't or we'd have Choo & Hamilton in the OF and a Drew/Cano SS/2B combo. Coulda-woulda-shoulda?.

ZachBoyer said...

Mack,

But it's not 150 million, in fact far from it. So why not try to come up with ideas within the framwork of the team's payroll INflexibility? Otherwise aren't you just having unrealistic expectations?

For instance, Kevin's point: "Perfect example would be Justin Upton (an actual cleanup hitter)."

He'll cost 150 himself next year in FA. SA can't do that. Try again.

Reese, Indians have pitching, Odor is a second baseman (we have, what, at least 3 of those?) and is batting .236 this year (not trading one of our SPs for that unless his name is Niese or Bartolo). I'd think about a one-for-one for Seagar. But which of the "core four" SPs are you trading? Also don't assume the Dodgers are so interested. They can BUY pitching. Hamels, Cueto, et. al …

Anon Joe F

"… so it becomes frustrating when fans scream for a "Piazza or Hernandez" type of trade without mentioning who the player is on the other side and is he available?"—I echo this same sentiment.

On Puig: He was brought up yesterday. I said this:

"How do you pry away a cost-controlled uber-talented OF for a decent price? Answer: He has to be crazy. Puig is crazy.

"Me? I like crazy. I have a sneaking suspicion Sandy doesn't. Plus his free-swinging approach doesn't much fit in with our seemingly team-mandated observation of pitches right down the middle."

So … do you still think he's a realistic option? I'd offer Niese and a couple of other 10-20 prospects (based on their needs) and see how fed up they are with him. But Idk if Sandy would?


ZachBoyer said...

Mack,

But it's not 150 million, in fact far from it. So why not try to come up with ideas within the framework of the team's payroll INflexibility? Otherwise aren't you just having unrealistic expectations?

For instance, Kevin's point: "Perfect example would be Justin Upton (an actual cleanup hitter)."

He'll cost 150 himself next year in FA. SA can't do that. Try again.

Reese, Indians have pitching, Odor is a second baseman (we have, what, at least 3 of those?) and is batting .236 this year (not trading one of our SPs for that unless his name is Niese or Bartolo). I'd think about a one-for-one for Seagar. But which of the "core four" SPs are you trading? Also don't assume the Dodgers are so interested. They can BUY pitching. Hamels, Cueto, et. al …

Anon Joe F

"… so it becomes frustrating when fans scream for a "Piazza or Hernandez" type of trade without mentioning who the player is on the other side and is he available?"—I echo this same sentiment.

On Puig: He was brought up yesterday. I said this:

"How do you pry away a cost-controlled uber-talented OF for a decent price? Answer: He has to be crazy. Puig is crazy.

"Me? I like crazy. I have a sneaking suspicion Sandy doesn't. Plus his free-swinging approach doesn't much fit in with our seemingly team-mandated observation of pitches right down the middle."

So … do you still think he's a realistic option? I'd offer Niese and a couple of other 10-20 prospects (based on their needs) and see how fed up they are with him. But Idk if Sandy would?


Reese Kaplan said...

@ZachBoyer -- as I said, the Mets need bats regardless of the position. Yes, Odor is hitting .236 and plays 2B. His minor league resume shows power and speed -- as many as 32 SBs in a season. His major league resume for this old man of 21 shows 13 HRs and 71 RBIs in 543 ABs. He can get better as he matures. Would I offer up Syndergaard for him? Probably not...but I don't think the Rangers would bite at Niese alone. You would have to sweeten the deal. Push Flores back to SS until Cecchini is ready.

Kevin S said...

Zach,

It has to be clear to Sandy that spending $8-$15M on aging veterans hasn't worked to supplement this offense. He has to spend $25M on an actual bat, whether it's via trade or FA. Maybe it's Upton (27 years old). Maybe it's Cespedes (29). Maybe it's Heyward (25). I don't know. But acquiring talent requires $$$ or trading away talent. They need to invest in this offense.

ZachBoyer said...

Reese, if you do that aren't you basically saying you think he'll be better than Dilson? You can't have two people covering 2B for the next ten years? Only nine men on the field!

Kevin,

I just don't think he's spending $25M. Don't mean to be a Debbie Downer but I think we'll all be disappointed if we're expecting an Upton. You have to remember it goes against the team's entire philosophy: MONEYBALL.

Thomas Brennan said...

Having read it all, my take is: GO CRAZY. GET PUIG. Then, this off-season, get a big free agent unless Conforto looks like a can't miss hitter opening day 2016.

I was a big Duda supporter. Things can change, but he does not inspire the allegiance of a long term contract. This current funk is excessively anemic. So: He could be traded this off-season.

Kevin S said...

I don't think we'll see it either but all I'm trying to say is that adding some help to this lineup isn't hard. He's trying to be cute and look for lighting in a bottle like Marlon Byrd or Dickey, when all he should be doing is signing a guy like Upton for the next 6 years.

The Closer said...

The problem is that we only have a few years of this young pitching window before we have to start paying them all and our payroll will automatically be driven up.

To be honest, there's no one on the trade market that will help this team and I'm not willing to "overpay" for other teams scraps.

We need to hope our guys come back healthy and get some luck with some guys.


I'm ready to admit we've seen the last of what was David Wright. I'm sure we'll see him play again but to be the David Wright we remember from 2009 we need to consider that's not a realistic possibility (Trust Me, I hope I'm wrong!!). Offer Murphy a qualifying offer, basically a franchise deal. If he signs elsewhere, we get a pick, if not he's our 3B. If he goes elsewhere, move Flores to 3B, Herrera to 2B and trade for a SS in the offseason.

My hopes are we use what money we have to sign Cespedes to a 4 year deal. Pass in Upton, Heyward, Gordon and go after Cespedes.

Shut down Lagares now, let Grandy play CF this year and until Lagares comes back healthy next year, along with Cuddyer in the OF until Conforto/Nimmo are ready to contribute and move Cuddyer to 4th OF/1B backup until his contract runs out.

Sign guys like Bastardo, O'Day or Clippard to fortify the bullpen and we're in good shape. Should still be in the $100-$105 M area, which is still considered in welfare in MLB payroll terms, but this is just what it is guys, sorry.

Reese Kaplan said...

While I used Puig as an example in the article, Cespedes, like Puig, has a little too much personality for the Mets. It's one reason I fully expect Jenrry Mejia to be gone before August 31st.

As long as they're losing one PED user, why not inquire about another -- Ryan Braun. The Hebrew Hammer would be a hit in NYC and his salary at $20 million per year is on par with what the insurance company will be paying David Wright. Tell him thanks for the memories and move on. This year you shift Flores back to SS but next year to 3B, play Herrera at 2B and have Braun batting cleanup.

ZachBoyer said...

I'd rather have the personality of Puig than the morals of Braun. But, hey, that's just me. I have a feeling SA (and probably a lot of other people) feel otherwise.

Kevin,

It's not so easy, not when the owners set a budget (however much that is, God knows) and Sandy has to stick to it. The team SUPPOSEDLY has no money. Maybe they should stop giving out so many free shirts on Fridays?

Michael S. said...

There aren't a lot of options out there. The one name I keep coming back to is Braun. He can slot over to RF, hits RH, and shouldn't command a ransom. His contract is already paid for in the sunk cost of Wright's impending insurance payoff.

Good news - we just had 2 of Baseball America's top 50 prospects and they're both bats - outfielders Conforto and Nimmo.

I posted this lineup before and I'll do it again-

1. CF Nimmo
2. SS Cecchini (AA all-star)
3. LF Conforto
4. RF Braun
5. 1B Duda
6. Ca d'Arnaud/Plawecki (health issues TBD)
7. 3B Murphy
8. 2B Herrera/Mazzili/Reynolds/Flores/???

I'd be ready to support that team as early as next year. They're be some growing pains but eventually it should give you what you need with our amazing pitching - solid run production. It might not be elite but it's tough top to bottom.

Mack Ade said...

Let me leave you tonight with this sobering news.

The Mets just won series... in LA... and in SF

That's a 4-2 record for six games I thought we wouldn't win one.

We can still limp home three or less games in the loss column behind Washington and in the 3rd time in the first for a wild card slot...

all being done with this gruel we put on the field behind the pitching.

Ya just never know

Michael S. said...

With all the injuries and subpar performances we're still very much in it.

Mack's Mets © 2012